Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Light-sensing worms provide a new tool for the study of vision

A team from the University in Michigan, led by Shawn Xu, has discovered that tiny worms can sense light.

They discovered that the chemical reactions used by the C. elegans ( a 1mm sized worm which is one of the most commonly used model animals in genetic research) are rather similar to the ones in humans. This discovery means that from now on the worm can be used for the research of building blocks of human vision, as well as how disrupting the phototransduction pathway can lead to eye disease.

This discovery may lead to further breakthroughs in the research of vision, helping researchers understand the basis of human vision diseases and promote the understanding of the evolutionary development of eyes in various species.

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Experiment seeks to head off Type 1 diabetes

Researchers at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh are hoping to control type 1 diabetes by curbing the rogue immune cells that cause it, before patients become completely dependent on daily insulin injections tosurvive.

About 3 million Americans have Type 1 diabetes, where the body mistakenly attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, the hormone crucial to converting blood sugar to energy.

This novel vaccine -- made from patients' own blood blocks the '911 call' that dendritic cells send to direct T cells to the pancreas. Just altering three communication molecules on their surface basically confuses and paralyzes the T cells. In mice and monkeys, the reprogrammed cells ended the vicious cycle of a pancreas attack that in turn attracts more T cells to attack again.

In human trials, the team has used donated blood to filter out immature dendritic cells and then reprogram them. Animal experiments have shown that after the cells have been re-injected just inside the skin over the pancreas...the cells somehow find their way back to that organ to start working.

Two competing teams - MacroGenics Inc. and Eli Lilly, and Tolerx Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline - have advanced tests under way

Currently, 15 adult diabetics [are] being injected to make sure there are no unexpected side effects before researchers test if reprogrammed cells might really protect children's pancreas cells

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Monday, June 29, 2009

UAW retirees swamping optometry offices in Indiana

A phoropter in use.Image via Wikipedia

The Indianapolis Star reported that, in Indiana, optometry offices have been swamped with United Auto Workers retirees who want to squeeze in one last visit before the coverage evaporates.
According to Bill Matthews, of UAW Local 23, Indiana is home to about 100,000 hourly UAW retirees & all of them have been affected by the change.
The Star described the plight of one retiree who has diabetes and needs regular eye examinations. David Ehman had his eyes checked in the past year, so he cannot make one more covered visit to his optometrist. The last visit he and his wife made to the eye doctor, with coverage, she left with new eyeglasses and he with a fresh set of contact lenses for a combined bill of nearly $800. Now, he said, he will have to shop around. Ehman stated, “The insurance thing really puts a bind on you. You start having to decide, how much is your health worth? “

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

ವೀಡಿಯೊ ಗೇಮ್ ಟು ಟ್ರೀಟ್ ಲಜ್ಯ್ ಎಯೇ

This image shows many of the characteristics c...Image via Wikipedia

Amblyopia, otherwise known as lazy eye, is a disorder of the visual system that is characterized by poor or indistinct vision in an eye that is otherwise physically normal, or out of proportion to associated structural abnormalities. It has been estimated to affect 1–5% of the population.

Treatment consists of correcting the optical deficit and forcing use of the amblyopic eye, either by patching the good eye, or by instilling topical atropine in the eye with better vision. This, according to the researchers, can lead to social stigma during a formative part of childhood
A review was published recently in Vision Research of a new computer based therapy developed by researchers from Tel Aviv University.

Dr. Uri Polat, Tel Aviv University's eye and brain specialist has developed a computer therapy that could spare kids from the ugly eye patch, letting them enjoy themselves during therapy.
And, this treatment, currently available only for adults, corrects the activity of the neurons in the brain, the main operator of eye function. The study showed that twenty hours in front of Dr. Polat's computer treatment had the same effect as about 500 hours of wearing an eye patch. In this treatment methodology, special and random objects appear, keeping the patient constantly alert and expecting the unexpected.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University have now collaborated with gaming specialists from Rochester University for developing a version of the therapy for kids.
"You see these poor kids in kindergarten wearing the patch. Everyone hates it, especially the parents who know what it's doing to their kid's self-esteem," said Dr. Polat. "As far as I know this is really a one-of-a-kind, non-invasive and effective way to treat lazy eye, without the use of an embarrassing eye patch.
"This is probably the first treatment that attempts to correct lazy eyes in adults, something that doctors had previously given up on. Doctors don't suggest intervention after the age of nine, because it usually doesn't work," he Polat added.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Human organ and tissue transplantation has become an important and growing part of modern medical practice. Advances in medical technology have resulted in millions of Americans receiving these life-saving or life-enhancing gifts. Eye banks can provide the most precious gifts of the world that is the gift of vision.

N.C. Eye Bank has the distinction of being the provider of most corneas in the world. Eye Bank Association of America reports that the NC based organization provided corneas for 3,440 transplants in 2008; the most of any eye bank in the world.

Eye banks make these transplants possible by processing donated corneas and supplying them to surgeons. According to Bob Russ, the eye bank's director of human resources, the expansion of opportunities to sign up for organ donation is one of the reasons why more people have agreed to be donors.
When a potential donor dies, the eye bank's clock starts ticking.
According to a recent report from Donate Life America people can sign up to be donors through the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles when getting or renewing their driver's license.
Under the new State Law that passed last year the heart symbol on someone's driver's license is considered binding consent to donate organs, including eye tissue. Before the law was passed, such groups as the eye bank had to get permission from the family to get eye tissue.

How to donate?
• In North Carolina, people can sign up to be organ donors through the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles. The licenses of those who are donors are marked with a heart.
• Donors should tell their family members about their wishes.
• Corneas to be used in a transplant, must be stored within 24 hours of the donor's death.
• In eye-tissue donations, disease, injury or infection in eyes disqualifies them for transplantation, but they can still be used for education and research purposes.
For more information about eye donation, you may call or visit the N.C.Eye Bank at 765-0932 or go to www.nceyebank.org

Relationship between omega-3 fatty acids, risk of AMD

According to a study published online June 9 in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, the association between omega-3 fatty acids and lower risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) appears to be modified by other dietary supplements and disease stage.
For the study, researchers from Tufts University performed an analysis of data from 2,924 patients participating in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, an eight-year supplementation trial. Dietary intake was assessed using food-frequency questionnaires.
The investigators found that a high intake of the omega-3s docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid...was associated with a lower risk of progression to advanced AMD. The team also found that patients who had low glycemic index diets and high consumption of the omega-3 fatty acids had lower risks of progression to advanced AMD than patients with high intakes alone, but patients in the early stages of AMD...only derived a benefit from consuming large amounts of DHA if they were not taking additional supplementation as part of the study.

Optometric vision therapy described as life-transforming

In an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times Susan R. Barry, professor of neurobiology in the department of biological sciences at Mount Holyoke College and the author of Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist's Journey Into Seeing in Three Dimensions, writes, Children are still not routinely tested for binocular vision deficits because the standard school vision exam (reading the eye chart with one eye at a time) doesn't screen for defects in eye coordination or stereovision. As a result, many children with vision problems may be labeled learning disabled, or if they misbehave in frustration, diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
At age 48, Barry, who suffered from crossed eyes and stereoblindness since childhood, consulted a developmental optometrist who prescribed a program of optometric vision therapy, which taught her how to coordinate her eyes so she could see things in three dimensions. Wishing she had had this therapy as a youngster, she concludes, Detecting these problems early and then seeking proper treatment can improve a child's vision and transform a child's life

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Red Meat Linked To Blindness in Old Age

A new study from Australia suggests that eating lots of red meat is linked to a higher risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in old age.

The study was the work of first author Dr Elaine Chong, who is from the Centre for Eye Research Australia based at the University of Melbourne, and colleagues, and is published on 1 April in the advance access issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The results showed that:

* At follow up, 1,680 participants had early stage AMD and 77 had late stage AMD.

* Higher red meat intake was positively associated with early AMD (ie more red meat linked to higher chance of having early AMD).

* The odds ratio for eating meat ten times a week or more versus eating it less than 5 times a week was a significant 1.47 (ie eating meat 10 times a week gave a person 47 per cent higher risk of AMD than if they ate it less than 5 times a week).

* Conversely, eating chicken 3.5 times a week or more was linked to 57 per cent lower risk of late AMD compared to eating it less than 1.5 times a week.

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Blind Man Navigates Obstacle Maze Unaided

Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that people can successfully navigate an obstacle course even after brain damage has left them with no awareness of the ability to see and no activity in the visual cortex, a region of the brain's cortex that is primarily responsible for processing visual inputs.
The findings reported by NY Times published in the December 23rd issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, reveal the importance of alternative routes in the brain, which are active in both those who have suffered severe brain damage to the visual cortex and in all of our everyday lives, according to the researchers.
See a video here
Earlier studies had shown a similar ability in monkeys with comparable brain lesions. The new study was possible only because of the participation of an unusual patient known as TN, who was left blind after selective damage to the visual cortex in both hemispheres of his brain following consecutive strokes.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

opical anti-inflammatories may be effective in keratoconus

While the etiology of keratoconus remains unclear, Albert Jun, MD, PhD, reviewed new research indicating that an inflammatory component can be measured in altered concentrations of inflammatory molecules such as IL 6, IL 10, TNF-alpha and matrix metalloproteinases.

This evidence may support the study of topical anti-inflammatory drops for treating and preventing disease advancement, he said at the symposium, which was jointly sponsored by Wilmer Eye Institute and the Maryland Optometric Association.

Homeless, but with clearer vision

My school has always played a significant role in the Boston community. During my training and residency I worked at many of the sites belonging to the New England Eye network.

New England College of Optometry has a program that benefits the homeless and is run by Ceida Chan, OD. This free program offers eye exams administered by students in the third year of the 4 year course as part of their clinical rotation. Many in the homeless community suffer from Diabetes and infectious disease and eye trauma. So this service meets two important needs - in providing medical care and helping in training students to see patients in a 'non clinical' environment, sometimes completing exams with portable equipment.

Boston newspaper covered this here

Experimental stem-cell therapy for blindness

MIT's Technology Review reports that a new treatment for eye disease, developed by Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) uses human embryonic stem cells to re-create retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells in the retina that support the photoreceptors needed for vision.

RPE cells are often the first to die off in age-related macular degeneration and other eye diseases, which in turn leads to loss of vision. Now, the experimental therapy has proved safe and effective in animal studies, and may begin early human trials in the next few months if it receives approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

According to Robert Lanza, ACT's chief scientific officer, not only does the RPE treatment avoid the problem of immune rejection, but the cells themselves are relatively easy to create, as embryonic cells tend to spontaneously differentiate into RPE cells and can be easily maintained in that state. ACT plans to focus first on patients with Stargardt's disease, and then move eventually to those with age-related macular degeneration.

TV segment features device designed to restore some vision to the blind

NBC Nightly News reported that a new device offers the enormous promise of restoring sight for those who don't have it. Chief science correspondent Robert Bazell interviewed Kathleen Blake, once totally blind, but now able to see, thanks to a tiny TV camera mounted on her sun glasses that sends images to electrodes placed on the back of her eye.

For 20 years, Dr. Mark Humayun and his team at the University of Southern California (USC) have been working toward the amazing goal of restoring vision to the blind. Not long ago, the USC researchers achieved great improvement in the device, going from 16 electrodes to 60, enabling better sight. According to Bazell, Soon, the glasses will go. Armand Tanguay, an electrical engineer, is developing cameras to be implanted directly in the eye lens in a system many scientists believe will restore better and better sight to millions.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Prevalence of Dry Eye Disease Among US Men

According to a study published in the June issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology, after age 50, approximately 4% of males develop dry-eye disease.
For the study, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital analyzed data on 25,444 men, who were asked if they had ever been diagnosed with dry-eye disease and also whether they had symptoms, including dry or irritated eyes. The team found that about three percent reported a previous diagnosis of dry eye, while 6.8 percent said they had constantly or often experienced at least one symptom, such as dryness or irritation. Nearly 2.2 percent reported both symptoms constantly or often. The authors explained that increasing age, high blood pressure, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and the use of antidepressants increase the chances of developing dry-eye disease.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

According to a study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) should eat oily fish at least twice a week, because omega-3 fatty acids found in abundance in oily fish appear to slow or even halt the progress of both early and late stage disease.

BBC reports that, for the study, researchers at Tufts University examined data on almost 3,000 people taking part in a trial of vitamins and supplements. The team found that progression to both dry and wet forms of advanced AMD disease was 25 percent less likely among those eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, people with advanced AMD who also consumed a low glycemic-index diet and who took supplemental antioxidant vitamins and minerals like vitamin C and zinc appeared to reduce their risk of disease progression by...up to 50 percent. The authors suggested that eating two to three servings of fatty fish...every week would achieve the recommended daily intake (650mg) of omega-3.

Researchers associate intermittent exotropia with mental illness in early adulthood.
MedPage Today reported that, according to a study published in the June issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, children with intermittent exotropia, which is a form of strabismus in which the eyes deviate outward, may have a nearly threefold increased risk of developing mental illness by early adulthood.

For the study, researchers from the Mayo Clinic followed 183 patients who were diagnosed with intermittent exotropia, 118 of whom were female. The cohort, plus age- and sex-matched controls, was followed to a mean age of 21.9 years. The investigators found that overall, a psychiatric disorder, including depression or anxiety, was diagnosed in 97 (53 percent) of the 183 patients, compared with 55 (30.1 percent) of the controls. In fact, children with the ocular problem were 2.7 times more likely to develop a psychiatric disorder than were age- and sex-matched controls, with rates of psychiatric disorders being significantly higher in boys, for reasons that remain unclear, the authors said.

Monday, June 08, 2009

HealthDay reported that, according to a survey conducted by the American Optometric Association (AOA), even though people who wear eyeglasses or contact lenses constitute 81 percent of the population, approximately one of every five of them hasn't seen an eye doctor or eye-care specialist in more than two years, the recommended period between eye checkups. Three of every five of those who don't use corrective lenses said that they had not had a vision exam in more than two years.

Some eye doctors believe this is because most vision problems aren't readily apparent, and because people have enough on their plates. AOA spokesman and optometrist Kerry Beebe, OD, said that the problem with these perceptions is that most eye diseases come on subtly. Once someone recognizes vision loss, it's usually too late to have pursued many avenues of treatment. Dr. Beebe added that people don't realize a lot of eye diseases don't have any symptoms in the early stages, which is where you'd like to treat those kinds of problems.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

ಸುರ್ಗೆರಿ ಫಾರ್ ರೆದಿಂಗ್ ಗ್ಲಸ್ಸೇಸ್

Pennsylvania's Times Leader reported that with the insertion of the Tecnis multifocal lens, patients with presbyopia, a visual condition that becomes apparent especially in middle age and in which loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye causes defective accommodation and inability to focus sharply for near vision, will regain the ability to see more clearly and not need to rely on reading glasses or bifocals again. Notably, 88 percent of those who received the Tecnis in both eyes reported never wearing glasses four to six months after surgery, and more than 90 percent never needed glasses for distance activities, such as driving, or near activities, such as reading, according to Frank Bucci, MD, who was one of 12 surgeons in the US to use the lens in trial cases with the Food and Drug Administration. The cost of the surgery is about $4,400.
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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

MedPage Today (6/1, Neale) reported that, according to a study published in Ophthalmology, common bacteria found on the eye were susceptible to newer-generation fluoroquinolones. For the study, researchers from Korea's Yonsei University College of Medicine obtained samples from 105 patients using conjunctival swabs immediately before refractive surgery.

Coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS) were found in 84.9 percent of the cultures; nearly one-third of those (31.4 percent) were methicillin-resistant. Also found were Staphylococcus aureus (2.3 percent), Streptococcus pneumoniae (1.2 percent), and gram-negative bacilli (4.8 percent). Next, the investigators treated the cultures with three newer-generation fluoroquinolones -- gatifloxacin, moxifloxacin, and gemifloxacin -- and two older-generation antibiotics in that class -- ofloxacin and levofloxacin. While the minimum inhibitory concentrations of the antibiotics required to stop the growth of 90 percent of the methicillin-susceptible CNS indicated that all five drugs were effective, the team found that the three newer-generation antibiotics as a group were significantly more effective against methicillin-resistant CNS than the two older ones.

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